The seven-year rematch made headlines Saturday at UFC 278 as welterweight champion Kamaru Usman took on No. 2-ranked Leon Edwards.
The two met for the first time at the UFC at FOX 17 in December 2015. Usman defeated Edwards by unanimous decision that night, but the two were different fighters ahead of the rematch.
Edwards came out to play. He landed on his body and legs. Usman quickly changed levels, struggling to push the fight to the ground. Edwards slipped and Usman took the top spot. Edwards wasted little time getting back on his feet. Usman continued to press, but Edwards took Usman with him. It was Usman’s first elimination in his UFC career. Edwards pulled Usman’s back and applied a body triangle. He struggled to lock after the naked choke, but Usman defended. The round ended with a landing punch from Edwards.
Usman forced Edwards to start the second round. Edwards put his knee on his body during the game. Usman continued to apply pressure and throw combos. Edwards circled freely. Usman was accidentally stabbed and given time to recover. Combat resumes after 35 seconds.
Edwards’ left hand dropped after the fight resumed. They exchange fists against their bodies. Usman connected with his right hand but was hit with a left hook. They clung to the cage and struggled for position. Edwards circled freely and quickly evacuated. Usman completed the attempt. Usman elbowed Edwards in the final seconds.
The tempo slowed down in the third quarter. Usman completed a knockout in under a minute, and Edwards quickly rose to his feet. Usman put his knee on Edwards’ lap in a pinch. They parted, and Edwards landed on his left hand. Usman responded with a combo and knocked Edwards down. Usman punched and controlled Edwards in the final two minutes.
Edwards pressed forward to start the fourth frame. He missed with a large left hand, but hit the body. Edward drew closer and stood up with Usman on his back. Usman held onto the fence to stay upright. They parted and Usman got the demolition. Edwards struggled to his feet, but remained within Usman’s grasp. Usman pulled Edwards down, and Edwards got up but grabbed the fence. Referee Herb Dean sent Edwards back to the ground. Usman completes a round of throwing punches.
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Edwards put his knees against his body. Usman pushed forward and looked for an evacuation. Edwards defended the attempt, but Usman pinned him to the cage and stomped. The referee separated them midway through the game. Edwards caught what was considered a low kick with his right hand. A replay shows that’s not the case. The kick lands on the belt line. The battle resumes.
After the fight resumed, Edwards headed home and sent Usman back to the canvas, unconscious. The game ends at 4:04 of the final round. Leon Edwards ends Usman’s streak and seeks to beat Anderson Silva’s UFC record.